City Councilor Patrick Murphy, who used YouTube about as effectively as anyone I’ve seen in local politics in the last election, is out with a new video:
By Tony Sampas
Chris Cillizza columnist for the Washington Post and commentator for MSNBC just sent out his “Afternoon Fix” update on politics and Washington suggesting hot items, issues and incidents to watch for… Today he’s targeting among other things the possible match-up of Congressman Stephen Lynch and frosh Congressman Bill Keating as the answer to the Massachusetts Congressional redistricting dilemna.
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS
* Another intraparty battle is brewing thanks to redistricting. Democrats might draw the Massachusetts map so that Reps. William Keating and Stephen Lynch are duking it out for the same seat. It would make sense: Keating has the least seniority in the delegation, and Lynch made a lot of enemies by voting against the health-care bill.
Cillizza sends the reader to an article in the local Dorchester Reporter that covers the questioning by WCVB/Channel 5 political reporter Janut Wu as she interviewed Rep. Michael Moran (D-Brighton) co-chair of the Joint Commission on Redistricting for the Sunday news show “On the Record.” Moran gave this answer to a query about a possible Lynch – Keating matchup:
MORAN: I think the people who are talking that way are probably getting that from — we have five Congressmen that sit in very powerful positions. We have a woman in Niki Tsongas; we have the Eighth Congressional District, which is the majority minority district. So if you take all those, and you consider those are the ones we have to keep, you’re left with Congressman Lynch, Congressman Keating and Congressman Tierney. And just by geography, Congressman Lynch and Congressman Keating seem to be the two that have to run against – if you use that as the principles. So that I think is where that is coming from.
WU: And is that a principle that’s sort of guiding you at this point?
MORAN: It’s one of many.
Read the full Dorchester Report article here.
The 6 O’Clock News on Channel 5 tonight played the Moran clip. It certainly should interest those wanting to “Keep the Fifth Intact.”
I spent July on family leave, not writing columns, and watching with increasing horror as market-illiterate know-nothings, abetted by the craven leaders of the Republican Party (from which I’m about to resign) and the unspeakable ineptness of Obama and his minions, brought our country to within an inch of defaulting on its debts.
One of our occasional contributors who tracks money, politics, sports, pop culture, Lowelliana, and his own dreamlife (a la Jean-Louis K.) is on special assignment for rh.com while the First Family tries to get a moment of tranquility on “the Island.” Our man on the scene Ray LaPorte from Pawtucketville Nation will file regular posts from the Vineyard that will no doubt rival breathless reports of celebrities on Entertainment Tonight.
This is finale week here on the Vineyard, when in one week we annually pack 10 pounds in a five pound wet paper doggie bag. It is the week when Islanders are the only people wishing not to be here.
It began with Monday’s torrent that would have had Noah packing his sea bags, followed Tuesday by low swooping military helicopters, transports and black SUV’s coming and going all day. Thus, then began the false rumor swirl that the First Lady and the kids slipped ashore under the radar ahead of schedule. The resulting noon traffic gridlock in front of my office on Main Street Vineyard Haven was the best I have witnessed in 17 years. It looked and sounded like mid-town Manhattan with the “212’s” (our description of New Yuckers)competing with each other for some elusive advantage.
Wednesday was the annual Illumination Night festivities at the Methodist Campground in Oak Bluffs, a 175-year tradition of song and candle-lighting attended by 10,000+ aimless strollers with green night stix, flashing cameras, and dripping ice cream.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Old County Fair held “up island” (not to be confused with the fictional “Upis Land” here) at the county fairgrounds. Fried everything, skillet-throwing contests (women only), rigged carnie games, and upchucking kids are some of the highlights. Friday brings the Oak Bluffs Fireworks, touted by its sponsors, the OB fire department (yup, firefighters), as the best in New England. This event is so over-the-top that the reverse 911 robo-calling system was triggered, as it is considered by the aforementioned sponsors and their emergency responder colleagues as an “emergency”. Doh!
Word now comes that the most famous person in the world, with entourage, will be here for ten days. I have my Blackberry at the ready to take Lady GaGa’s picture when she comes to town to shop for a new bathing suit. Somebody else is arriving later today, but I can’t remember who that might be.
—Yours on location, Paparazzi Ray
Politics Editor Glen Johnson had posted on his Boston Globe “Political Intelligence” site that Elizabeth Warren has filed the necessary paperwork to form an exploratory campaign committee for the US Senate. This is a necessary legal step needed to “test the waters” for a run allowing a would-be candidate to raise some reasonable monies to do things like polling and seeking consultant services. Warren has also established a website – www.elizabethforma.com – in order to solicit donations and possible volunteers.
Read the full article here at boston.com.
It’s no surprise that the 40 or so comments after the article are a “mixed bag” of reader reactions!
My wife and I did the be-a-tourist-in-your-own-state thing again yesterday as part of our “stay-cation” approach this summer. We started and ended our day in Andover, but spent most of the bright blue-sky day in Boston, which looked very good in the parts we visited.
Boston King Coffee on Main Street in Andover was our first stop for something different to begin the day. It’s a fine local eatery with a “Rainbow Scramble” egg dish (diced colored peppers, tomatoes, tofu, and ham) that we highly recommend. The menu lists Richardson’s Ice Cream, so I asked if it was from Richardson’s Dairy in Dracut—it’s from Middleton. The magazines on a side table included several issues of Forbes and a fancy wine publication. Just like the Owl Diner.
We moved right along to Boston after the rush hour and parked at a pricey garage near Faneuil Hall for convenience. We wanted to walk the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greeenway, which has been on our “to do” list. The day was perfect, sunny with a slight breeze off the harbor and powder blue overhead. We traversed the whole string of parks (North End, Wharf District, Fort Point Channel, Dewey Square, and Chinatown).
Web photo by Pennington courtesy of panoramio.com
Along the way we encountered fountains, magnificent flowers of many varieties, a vegetable garden, permanent and temporary sculptures, stretches of thick and well-maintained grass, plenty of benches and individual red steel chairs, swaths of sunflowers and black-eyed Susans, a mass of bamboo and a bold red angular arch referencing the familiar old ornate gateway to Chinatown, an artificial brook, and lots of people of all ages enjoying being outside. The Greenway makes a second Boston Common, only long and narrow. On either side of the Greenway the city presents itself as an attractive, energetic capital. My impression is that Boston post-Big Dig is so much more vivid and so much less gritty and hard-edged. With the ocean and Harbor Islands providing a vista to the east and the greened-up streetscape, recycled seaside commercial buildings, and steel-and-glass towers forming the land’s edge in that district, Boston really feels like a world-class city on the order of London or New York.
We circled back to the Wharf District via an inland path that took us through Downtown Crossing, past the failed huge Borders Bookstore and bronze Irish Famine Memorial, to the North End through Christopher Columbus Park with its own Rose Kennedy tribute rose garden whose caretakers are the Friends of the park. We wound our way through the always interesting North End, stopping at the iconic Paul Revere on horseback statue and stepping into the Old North Church at 193 Salem Street, dating from 1723 (“the oldest standing church building in Boston”). We learned something new: the two lanterns hung from the steeple on April 18, 1775, were displayed to watch guards in Charlestown for “one minute” only, according to the guide in the church. That was enough to foil British plans to disrupt rebel activity in Lexington and Concord.
By 12.30 pm, we were ready to eat again and picked a small pizza place on Salem Street, one whose compact dining room opened onto the street. As of yesterday, it was the best pizza we have tasted—maybe being so hungry helped. The place, whose name I can’t recall, has a white decor with a bar on the left and small kitchen in the back. There are tables for maybe 20 people. On the way to lunch we bought Italian cookies at a tiny bakery, also on Salem St., which we sampled when we sat for a while along the waterfront before retrieving our car.
On the way home we retraced our route through Andover, where we bought a few books and a cool, collectible “On the Road” orange steel water bottle from Penguin Books at the Andover Bookstore (founded in 1809). We walked up and down Main Street, loaded with small businesses that appeared to be doing well enough. We spotted a couple of For Rent signs on side streets, but overall the downtown is lively. Near 4 p.m., we left town to do one last errand.
One local note for my friends at LNHPark. The Harbor Islands National Park info pavilion near the Aquarium was stocked with brochures from every Park in Massachusetts except Lowell and Saugus Iron Works. Either Lowell is popular or they need a supply of the standard brochures down there. The interpretive signage at the pavilion and all over the wharf district is top-notch. Boston collectively has done an excellent job on its public spaces in that part of the city.
A note in today’s Lowell Sun tells us that the famed and now restored “Peacock Room” in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. reopens today for public viewing. The room was originally designed for British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, who wanted a place to showcase his blue-and-white Chinese porcelain collection in his London home. American expatriate and Lowell-born artist James McNeill Whistler redecorated the room in 1876 and 1877 as a “harmony in blue and gold” using the Chinese porcelain patterns for his inspiration. This work is probably the single best-known object in the entire Freer collection. Today, museum goers will see a room restored to it 1908 days.
“…has been restored to its appearance in 1908, when museum founder Charles Lang Freer used it to organize and display more than 250 ceramics he had collected from throughout Asia. As the first special exhibition held in the room since it underwent conservation in 1993, The Peacock Room Comes to America highlights Freer’s belief in “points of contact” between American and Asian art and the aesthetic relationships to be found among the museum’s diverse collections.”
On a further note – although the Freer Gallery of Art is generally known as an Asian art museum, it also houses a significant collection of paintings and etchings by James McNeill Whistler beyond the Peacock Room. The Whistler collection consists of almost thirteen hundred paintings, drawings, or engravings. Highlights include early works such as Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (1864–70), numerous portraits, including the large painting of his model Maud Franklin titled Arrangement in White and Black (about 1876), several of the most powerful of the night scenes Whistler called “nocturnes,” and a virtually complete collection of his engravings.
Read more here at the Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art.
Forbes magazine and website published its latest list of highest-earning authors, topped by James Patterson at $84 million for the past 12 months. I picked up this bulletin from bbc.com. See the top ten here. New Englander Stephen King made third place with $28 million.
Note to self: Poets not found on this list—go prose.
With August half done, here’s a glance at some local real estate statistics. Anyone with an internet connection can do a similar analysis. Just go to the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds website, click on the yellow “search” box then the “document” tab and select the document type and the date range and click “search.” Below I’ve compared the number of several document types recorded during the first half of August with the number recorded during the same period in 2010 and then did the same for the month of July.
From August 1 to August 15, 2011, the number of deeds recorded (232) was up 40% from the same period in 2010 (166).
From August 1-15, 2011, the number of mortgages recorded (392) was down 18% from 2010 (480).
From August 1-15, 2011, the number of foreclosure deeds (17) was down 41% from 2010 (29).
From August 1-15, 2011, the number of orders of notice (new foreclosures)(37) was down 16% from 2010 (44).
Here are similar figures from July:
In July 2011, 474 deeds were recorded, an 8% increase from the 440 recorded in 2010.
In July 2011, 765 mortgages were recorded, a 21% decrease from the 971 recorded in 2010.
In July 2011, 37 foreclosure deeds were recorded, a 34% decrease from the 56 recorded in 2010.
In July 2011, 52 orders of notice were recorded, an 11% decrease from the 47 recorded in 2010.
So what to make of these numbers? The significant decrease in the number of mortgage recorded is perhaps the most significant number. This represents a sharp decline in the number of refinancings taking place. The incredibly low mortgage rates now being offered pose no obstacle, but lenders seem to be much more hesitant to make loans – or at least are imposing much stricter standards in approving loans – than in any time in recent history. Another factor is the number of homeowners who are still “underwater” on their current mortgages, meaning that they owe more on the mortgage than the house is worth. Such a condition makes it nearly impossible for them to refinance. Even so, there are many people who would qualify for new mortgages but they’re just not getting them which I believe is further evidence of a lack of confidence in both the economy and current real estate prices.
The impressive increase in the number of deeds recorded is also significant and is a positive. While many of the deeds are previously foreclosed properties now being sold by lenders-in-possession, there are also plenty of arms-length sales. If you’re able to sell your own house, there are some good buys out there and some people are using the previously mentioned low interest rates to take advantage of these opportunities.
The decrease in foreclosure deeds, while positive, is not that significant. Foreclosure deeds are recorded many months after a foreclosure auction occurs, so this number is what might be called a “trailing indicator.” A “leading indicator” in this field is the order of notice, which is the document that signals the start of a new foreclosure. Orders of notice being down 16% in the first half of August and 11% in July is indeed a good sign, suggesting that the number of foreclosures we will see in the region in the coming months will be less than from a year ago.